What Has Become Of Parenting?

I cannot pronounce, let alone spell his name. Easier to say Greek Freak than the actual name, all those vowels.

I read the linked article. It was emotional because it is rare. How often, blatantly often, do athletes take their honor and become self-indulgent. Not only athletes, but I’ll settle there.

What the MVP award for the National Basketball Association means is unfathamobile, at least to this incredible athlete and his team and his city.

The counter-point and it’s not surprising. How Houston whines with such a false accolade, prompted THEIR athlete James Harden, came in number two. Disheartening.

Not my point, though. How many? How many? [Worth asking twice.] Do not regard family? Or worse, do not benefit from families who support them?

My own space can never be seen without Hank and Es Miller. You readers know that. I don’t know if I ever shared my senior high school year. I had a horrific start as a hitter. Blank. Then my father gave me a lesson in my swing, standing on Miller Field, which was our driveway, how my swing elevated and shouldn’t do that. I took his lesson to heart and to my “new swing,” and ended up hitting better than ever. It was “my father’s fault.”

Then my mother…so many ways. Perhaps the most vivid was her refusing retirement, instead walking a mile to a nursing home, asking the manager for “someone here who has no visitors.” She got two names and was “was with them,” until Ed Miller was hit by a car on Valentine’s Day. Well, even that didn’t slow her down. She insisted on breathing until Brian her grandson, brought newborn Zeli, to her. Mom held Zeli, smiled and said, “God is good.” Her last words.

So, on this end of June…when parenting is perhaps more important than anything today, read the link. How the Greek Freak affirms his family…beautiful!

How about you?

https://www.yahoo.com/sports/giannis-antetokounmpo-mvp-speech-tears-bucks-045313911.html

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Make A Difference…A Ripple At A Time

Few will have the influence to bend history itself; but each of us, in our daily interactions, can create a tiny ripple of hope. Those ripples, crossing each other from millions of different centers of energy, write the daily history of our fellow human beings. And thus we make a difference.
Bobby Kennedy

This struck me yesterday…a lazy Saturday, a time for the Cubs to be blown out by the hated Mets [Hey, I remember 1969!] and the lawn looking country club attractive. The lawn is the responsibility of Mario and his crew.

I know. I’ve shared the Bobby Kennedy quote. But it now speaks to me, so I share on this Sunday morning. Time to get to church. Church, especially through worship and pastoral visitation, knows how life is effective and valued.

Asking for each of us to be civil, to be of kind regard to others and to know the day well lived beats any day scorning and whining and sulking.

Okay, preachy…I take that prerogative.

Live life…one ripple at a time….

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Growing Old Is Not Growing Up

Ah, Saturday morning. I just heard a wonderful sermon from my Saturday preacher, A. Johnson. A is for Art but also for his grade in perceiving life.

He made a good point this morning, citing the link to the adult blow-up when a 13-year old umpire made what apparently was a bad call on 7 year olds playing baseball. The parents erupted. Fortunately, the kids and umpire were not hurt.

To this Art says this: “Nothing short of death will keep us from growing old. But, growing up is totally optional. Just because we look grown up doesn’t mean we grow up. Improvement? Yes. Room for more? Yes.”

Oh, my. THIS applies to each one of us.

Then. Art, who’s dealing with retirement offers this with profound wisdom:

“I’ll be in a different place [when I retire].

I will be. Good thing to have you on myside. A man that has experienced turbulence in his career. An experienced guide. So it’s no big deal. Life moves on…faster than ever. Maybe I’ll hike the Appalachian Trail. Pedal across America or maybe Texas on my bike. Or maybe San Marcos. Or drive a gravel truck.

Regardless, hearing stories about left handed pitchers and fly fisherman. Kind enough to release the fish…the umpire… and occasionally intercede for his friends. A blessing and a releasing for sure.

Hope there is a trip planned in the not too distant future where the river runs, the fish feed and multiply, the boat rocks gently, the rod swishes in the damp air, and fisherman enter a different place, a sacred place, a place of peace, gratefulness, and worship.

Then there’s a tug, an explosion, fish on. For a few moments the world is right, worries are distant, life is now. The other stuff is just space between the now’s. Maybe.”

Art? You are SPECIAL. So very special. The bonding of friendship makes it possible for each of us to accept the dawning day and do what we can to improve…for us, and for all those around us. Such a delight you “get fishing” and its value. Deeper I get friendship and know it inspires and sustains. You do that for me. Called a blessing.

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When The Umpire Is Wrong

I think his name was Bob Howell. I know he was a baseball umpire. It was a critical moment for me, trying to get out of bases loaded jam, bottom of the last inning, two out, count three and two, my team ahead by one run. Win and we head to Semi-professional Baseball World Series in Battle Creek, Michigan. Lose? Go home.

My catcher and I decided to lean on the curve ball, to nick the outside corner. Tension was pushing rampant from 20 fans. [We didn’t sell tickets and parents and girlfriends were cheering on.] The runners started as the curve twisted.

Truth? [Which is a rare product these days.] The curve ball didn’t come close, at least six inches outside [six inches was like a foot].

“STRIKE THREE!” Bob Howell bellowed. The batter, fortunately, dropped his bat. Game over. Battle Creek here we come.

Bob Howell saved my bacon in that call. The batter knew differently. The catcher knew differently. I knew differently.

No upheaval. No shattered locker room mirrors. Bob Howell made a bad call. I didn’t complain. Life goes on.

But. Does it?

The linked article—took place in one of my favorite cities, mile-high Lakewood, Colorado—shows how explosive baseball calls are.
More than that. How explosive life is when calls don’t go our way.

Bantering now about Joe Biden’s mention of segregationist Senators. Bantering over…well, you can expand.

Does it have to be this way? A 13-year-old umpire making a call that led to this—please watch and get ill. Well, no, watch and see how this very attitude impacts life today.

In a whimsical manner I thought in one of my novels, for my hero, Tricia Gleason to be pitching and the umpire calls a strike for her that wins the game. I think of having Tricia storm the umpire and tell him, “It was a ball! You made the wrong call!”

Of course that doesn’t happen.

But, listen. What happens today that doesn’t vacate integrity?

I’m waiting for your answer. Bet you. Bet you Godot will show up before you answer.

In a moment I’m headed for the funeral service of Jan Trimmer. Her husband, Ron, is a wonderful pastor. He now has to be pastor, grieving spouse, and father to their two adopted boys. That’s a huge load for his shoulders.

The right call? To simply tell Ron he’s not alone. That “call” does more than any strike or ball.

Now, the link…

https://www.yahoo.com/sports/parents-brawl-at-youth-baseball-game-over-13-yearold-umpires-call-144120382.html

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Your Decision: Giver Or Taker?

I was caught in this affirmation, on both sides. Often, which is a chant that we grow when we give, not good to build bigger barns, if you have a lot, better to build a bigger dinner table.

This is what happened. A surprise, and yet it isn’t. Which is to inquire if someone’s response to your generosity is what matters.

The following, yesterday. Was checking out at the grocery store, noticed an elderly lady behind me, pushing a very small cart that had two loaves of French Bread and two candy bars. Chris, the assistant manager, was the cashier. I leaned over to him, “Hey, Chris. I’ll cover her costs,” pointing to the lady.

He nodded.

I turned, “Ma’am, I have good news for you…your groceries are paid for. Have a lovely day.”

She looked somewhat puzzled…not miffed but puzzled, and then smiled, her way of “getting it.”

She then turned and grabbed two hands full of candy bars and dumped them in her cart.

Chris and I were startled. He looked at me, a facial inquiry, “How do you deal with that?”

Let me stop there. For you. How would you deal with it, her response to an act of generosity?

Continued.

She reached for a second time for two more handfuls of candy bars. I held up my hand and said, “I think you have enough, Ma’am.”

She looked at me, “For my grandchildren.”

I nodded that I understood, but said, “Think you have enough.”

And left.

Okay. She ended up being a taker. But, I maintain. That doesn’t negate the act of kindness. And that is that.

So, I show the affirmation again…and ask us as much and often as we can, be givers. Whether or not you load up on candy bars.

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If Only…

I’m not qualified. None of us is. To be a decision maker in terms of resolving world conflicts.

I try to look the other way, but then remember Bill Coffin who offered, “Don’t turn the other cheek so as to not see the evil.”

The morning news become mourning news. About sending troops to Iran, about mounting tensions, about build-up of nuclear realities.

This morning, June 18, 2019, two very important people come to mind. Both people for whom I have the greatest respect. The first is my daughter-in-law, Jennifer Hagen Miller. She’s an attorney with a Pentagon office. She doesn’t shuffle papers. Most of her work is not finding housing for retiring military. Most she cannot talk about. I understand. And yet, she has the wisdom and knowledge, dosed in humility and courage to do the right thing. To think the right way.

The other I’ve bragged about, Bob Dickman, retired General. A quick back story. Bob and Barbara were members of Broadmoor Community church in Colorado Springs. In June of 1987 when I received my Doctor of Ministry from Eden Seminary in St Louis, as I processed, who was standing there, smiling with nodding affirmation? Yep, Bob. He came on his own to affirm his pastor.

Wow.

Then when their son, Tad, was born, they drove to Hudson, Ohio—I served our United Church of Christ there, to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Baptism for Tad.

Now. Bob is retired. Barb is a terrific community advocate, bringing hope to people who are both hapless and in their own view, hopeless. And Tad? He’s the PR Director for the Jacksonville Jaguars and is engaged to be married.

Yes!

But, this morning and I choose morning over mourning, I wish.

I wish so much…that Bob would be given the responsibility to direct and enable decisions, in which our nations would be on more secure “no war” mentality. I trust him. I love him. He’s as wise and reliable…and his nose doesn’t grow.

But, only a wish.

And yet, I pray for peace. That not academic. That’s necessity. I ask you to do the same.

Sure, life goes on…tomorrow is Diane’s birthday, next year Jason and Kristi will be married and on Thursday, I’ll gather with clergy colleagues to celebrate the life of Jan Trimmer in Georgetown.

I won’t look away from the untoward. Rather, I’ll look it in the eye and try not to wince, will pray to God that wisdom takes over and clenched fists become open hands.

Shalom to each of us, no matter where we live or how we are. Shalom? The inner peace and well-being of the soul.

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He Beat The Throw

This is a day. Yes, a special day. A day of birth. Some years ago. A day of affirmation. A day of reality.

More, though, this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice in it.

Images. Reality. When they come together.

I don’t know. But knowing doesn’t matter. Remembering impacts.

I was an Associate Pastor at the First Congregational Church in Eugene, Oregon, circa 1969-73. Don Kirsch was a member. He had played in an adult fast-pitch softball league in Portland, Oregon. My father, Hank Miller, was his coach.
He remembered my dad, made sure I knew my father was a great coach, and more, a friend.

Then the incident.

Don suffered from ALS, the world’s most horrific disease. Called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease. The muscles crumble and the future has more dark than light. And breath is stopped because the muscles no longer function the lungs.

Don had been at Stanford Medical School, had a short recovery, could walk on his own.

He came back to his Eugene home. Not incidentally he was the head baseball coach at the University of Oregon.

He returned to their Spring practice, stood next to home plate to tell his team how much he loved them, that he was always with them.

That was Don. That was Don.

Suddenly.

He lost his balance and fell to the ground, reaching out with his hand to touch home plate.

One of the players leaned down spread his hands and said, “SAFE!”

Don looked up and said, “Yeah, I knew I beat the throw.”

That sticks with me today. A day of birth. A day of life.

EACH of us can name the foes, the worries, the dread.

But, we can also know this is the day the Lord has made.

And know.

Down deep, we are always safe…in the hands of the Lord, Yahweh, God. And that. Means we always beat the throw.

And life?

It goes on…with breath and hope and a future unknown. And, yet not. A future in God’s hands.

So, kick butt, friends and keep living.

SAFE!

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